The First Investigation Report (FIR) against the senior journalist and former Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (pemra), Absar Alam has triggered a trend to file a case against the government opposing circles.

The FIR filed includes sections 131(Abetting mutiny, or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 124A (Sedition), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief), 499 (defamation), 20 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, (PECA) and high treason section 6.  

The demerits in the FIR are not easy to ignore. For example, the article 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) applies to anyone speaking against the government—which under present government performance is much of the country.

Similarly, other sections can be discussed, but it is not the purpose here. The chances that the case will quash in the earlier stages remain higher.

Another FIR has been registered against a journalist Asad Toor for alleged “negative propaganda against the state, Pakistani institutions, and Pakistan Army”.  The FIR against him is registered under PPE sections 499 (defamation), 500 (punishment for defamation), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief). Other sections 11 and 37 are included under PECA.

It seems like a pressure tactic to persuade the detractors to stop maligning the Army and focus on the civilian side of affairs. After seeing the social media uproar and backlash against the Bajwa’s alleged asset revelations, the PTI government has introduced a new act is introduced to silent the military critics.

There exists a clear trend of tweets against the armed forces and several tweets directly or indirectly targeting the incumbent government but not showing the same aggression against other parties. Simultaneously, some bigwigs in journalism don't utter a word against the military establishment and seem to favor the incumbent hybrid regime.  

It’s important to get the facts right.

Chaudhary Naveed Ahmed Advocate, from Jhelum, filed the case against senior journalist Absar Alam—an alleged PML-N supporter and confidant, in Dina. Intriguingly, Naveed submitted his application in Dina (home-town of federal minister for science and technology, Fawad Chaudhary), rather than in his home town of Jhelum. It ignites the suspicion over the alleged role of the minister in the application. The applicant denies this charge, vehemently, when asked.

The writer contacted the applicant, and he explained his position that “I took this step out of patriotism. The continuous rants against the military, the only strong state institution (among the legislature, judiciary, bureaucracy, and armed forces) worried me, and I opted to file the case against him”. And, he seems very optimistic about the case proceedings in the coming days.

The critical question in this scenario is the inability of political activists and journalists to differentiate between the government and the military establishment. They usually blame the incumbent government for failing to act, targeting, and silencing the dissenting voice. Besides, the establishment is also accused of its involvement in starting this trend.

The presence of a hybrid regime is partly to be blamed for the prevailing situation. No wonder both the elected government and the state institution gets blamed at once. The purity of the cause is an issue here. The military’s importance to curtail India’s aggression is understandable. A hostile country always looking to jump on an opportunity to weaken or destroy Pakistan requires a strong defense. All this at the cost of compromise on civilian supremacy is not acceptable to some doubters.

It worries the left—which is understandable. But these trends from the previously pro-establishment party and its backers are a cause of concern and raises suspicions of their true intent.  

Absar Alam’s reputation after a couple of years at pemra is somewhat tainted. His close association with the house of Sharif is an open secret, and his appointment on an illegal hefty salary reflects it.

ARY’s Arshad Sharif bashed the former pemra chief for his association with PML-N and questioned the authenticity of his degrees. He claimed that during his (Absar’s) regime, the ARY anchor received more than 100 notices and FIR was also filed against him.

During PML-N’s last tenure, Lahore High Court (LHC) termed his appointment as a pemra chief illegal, proving the charge of nepotism and a violation of merit. He illegally withdrew salary of Rs1.5 million, against the stipulated Rs450,000 a maximum salary possible for a pemra chairman. Alam relinquished his responsibilities as PEMRA chief in December 2017.

The irony is that Alam, who was appointed as pemra chief to allegedly patronize the then PML-N government is today complaining against the lack of media freedom, witch-hunt, and dissent against the anti-government voices.

In his two years at the helm, he allegedly targeted critical media voices and misused the politically neutral position. Alam denies these allegations.  He alleged in a press conference that pemra employees were receiving death threats from unknown sources. His actions and dismissal made him a controversial figure. How can he (Alam) question the media freedom, when he allegedly did the same as in the past? 

The thorough inspection and analysis of these mouthpieces of revolutionaries fighting a war against the establishment show their hypocrisy. Why would one listen to these journos, when they toe only an anti-establishment line, and then tweet and retweet the arguments floated on social media in favor of a party of choice?

For example, in the context of Nawaz Sharif, it’s almost as if one is trying to establish the fact that Nawaz’s money was hard-earned, and all the court proceedings against the house of Sharif were a farce.

If General Bajwa’s money trail does not come by, and only a press release is accepted, it does not make Nawaz and Asif Ali Zardari innocent.

Similarly, a select few favors the Pakistan People Party’s (PPP) position and will only tweet if the report/news favors the party. And the same can be said about others. Depending on ideological position (which is non-existent), impartiality is hard to find.

Since the war zone is twitter, it is appropriate to take clues and gather facts from twitter handles to observe the position of a journalist. Absar Alam's twitter handle is full of tweets and retweets against the Armed Forces, the incumbent government, and some of his tweets favor the PML-N’s party position. For example, on Kashmir's sell-out allegations—which became the primary reason for FIR (as per the applicant) he shares the same opinion as Maryam Nawaz. PML-N has accused the incumbent government of Kashmir sell-out on several occasions.

It is enough to make him untrustworthy, along with many of his peers.